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“What do I pack in my pump bag” was something I began searching as my first maternity leave was coming to an end. I had finally SORT of figured out breastfeeding and was preparing to try to figure out pumping at work. It seemed very scary and I couldn’t find much information about what to pack in my bag!
I asked a few friends who had already been down the road before me what they packed and I also searched the internet high and low. I put together my own list using information I found. When I returned to work and began pumping, I added a few more items to my list that I realized were a necessity for me.
As I am writing this post, I am nearing the end of my nursing/pumping journey with my second child. I feel as if I have a good handle on what needs to be in a pump bag! Here are the items that I think are the essentials along with some extras. I also have included a free handy checklist for you as you are preparing to get your bag ready. Find the link at the end of my post!
Breast Pump: If you have not started pumping and are going to need to pump when you return to work, I would suggest buying/trying out your breast pump at least a month in advance. Most times, you can get a free pump from health insurance if you have not done so already. I had NO idea how to use my pump. One of my best friends was over and helped me figure it out! We read the manual and went on YouTube to try to figure it out. I remember how excited we both got when we saw milk starting to drip into the bottles! It is such a funny memory to look back on. If you are not sure how to use your pump, read the manual, google, YouTube, or call on an experienced mommy friend for help!
Pump Parts: Make sure you have all pump parts necessary! I made the mistake of forgetting a part before, and it was HORRIBLE! Make sure you have all the parts that you need for your specific pump. I would suggest buying extra parts. I have 4 sets that I rotate and it makes life a lot easier.
Pump Bag: Some breast pumps come with a bag, but when I bought mine, I only received the actual pump and pump parts. I happened to have an extra diaper bag at the time, so I turned that into my pump bag. Make sure whatever bag you use, you have enough room for your pump and all of the other wonderful things I have included on this post. This is a similar bag to the one I have and it has worked just fine for me! It has enough compartments to keep all of my items organized.
Battery Pack: Depending on where you will be pumping, you may need a battery pack! Some breast pumps are chargeable and do not need to be plugged in, but if you have the Medela Pump in Style like me, you will need a battery. I don’t necessarily love the battery pack because it takes SO many batteries and I don’t think the battery life lasts very long, but you may need to use one depending on your situation. Luckily for me, the storage closet that I had to pump in at school had an outlet that I could plug into. Yes…I had to pump in a storage closet, but I’ll take that over a bathroom or other unpleasant place (I have heard many horror stories).
Car Adaptor: Even if you do not have to pump in a vehicle, I highly suggest having a car charger for your pump! If you plan to travel while pumping and you aren’t driving, this is a much better option than the battery pack in my opinion. I personally could not handle pumping while driving. It was way to dangerous for me and I think if you can pump while driving you are a rockstar!
Gallon Ziploc Bags: I put all of my pump parts in gallon ziploc bags. A lactation consultant told me that I could store my pump parts in the ziploc bag and place them into the fridge in between pump sessions. I had minimal time for pumping being a teacher and this saved me time as I pumped multiple times throughout the day and did not need to clean my parts in between each pump session. Please consult with a doctor or lactation consultant for more information about storing your parts in the fridge as not everyone agrees with this practice.
Sterilizer Bag: I always keep a microwave sterilizing bag in my pump bag. This Medela quick clean bag can be used up to 20 times before you need to discard it. You never know when you might need one! I have dropped a pump part on the ground at school which is a like a cest pool of germs! Luckily, I was able to wash my part and then sterilize it with my steam bag! All you need is water and a microwave. Make sure you read the directions on the steam bag for how long to microwave as it depends on the watts of the microwave.
Hands Free Pump Bra: A hands free pump bra is 100% a MUST for me! I do not know how people pump without a pump bra! I forgot my pump bra once and my arms were SO tired from holding the bottles! I also was SO bored because I couldn’t browse my phone to pass the time. I have linked the one I use, but I know some people who have made their own hands free pump bra by cutting holes in an old sports bra. Hands free is the way to be!
Nursing Pads: This is another MUST have for me! Leaking through your bra and/or shirt is quite embarrassing. I always keep extra nursing pads in my bag to prevent this from happening. I use disposable nursing pads, but some people may like to use reusable ones. I have heard that the Bamboobies nursing pads are good reusable ones!
Small Cooler Bag: Some breast pumps come with a bag to store your pump as well as a cooler bag. Mine did not come with a cooler bag, so I use a small lunchbox/cooler bag to store my pump parts and my breastmilk. I was able to keep my cooler bag in a fridge at my school. If you do not have access to a fridge, I would invest in some ice packs.
Ice Packs: If you need ice packs, I like these ice packs because they are slim and you can put a few in your cooler bag.
Sharpie: I always have a sharpie handy so I can write the date and ounces of breastmilk on my milk storage bags. I also use the sharpie to mark off the uses for my sterilizer steam bags.
Breastmilk Storage Bags: These Lansinoh breastmilk storage bags are hands down my favorite bags! They are the best ones I have found and I have tired A LOT. I keep a pack of storage bags in my pump bag since I reuse my bottles multiple times throughout the day. These bags are also easy to to lay flat and freeze.
Milk Boosting Snacks: If you are like me, while breastfeeding, I am ALWAYS starving. Oatmeal is great for milk production and is filling, so I always try to keep an oat based snack in my bag. I love these Bobo bites! They are tasty and a great snack that fits in my bag. They come in a variety of flavors.
Hand Sanitizer: In case you are not able to wash your hands, you will want to make sure you have some hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean. Hand sanitizer is always good to have on hand anyways.
Hand Towel or Paper Towels: You never know when you might have a spill or a leak! I always keep a small hand towel or paper towels handy to clean up any messes.
Hair Ties: I always keep a few hair ties in my bag. I like to pull my hair back when pumping to keep it out of the way.
Chapstick: While breastfeeding, I would often feel like my lips needed some chapstick! Breastfeeding made me quite thirsty so I am sure thats why my lips felt more chapped. I am an avid chapstick user as it is, so I always keep some on hand. It wouldn’t hurt to keep some in your pump bag. I like Burt’s Bees.
Water Bottle: As stated above I AM ALWAYS THIRSTY while breastfeeding. It is important to stay hydrated to maintain your milk supply. Breastfeeding or not, you should be staying hydrated for your health. Here is a giant water bottle that made it easy for me to stay hydrated.
Travel Disinfecting Wipes: I always wiped down the surface where I was pumping with a Clorox wipe before I put my pump parts down. I suggest always having a travel pack in your bag.
Phone & Charger: Pumping can be very boring. Make sure you have your phone and a charger so you can scroll social media, listen to a podcast or audio book, look at pictures, or watch videos of your baby to pass the time.
Feminine Products: I always keep some feminine products along with my nursing pads in my bag! You never know when you might need them.
Wear clothes that are pumping friendly! Dresses are not your friend when trying to pump. I remember the first time I wore a dress when I had to pump. I was pretty much in my birthday suit while pumping in the supply closet. It was really uncomfortable as I had to lift my whole dress up to pump. I was terrified someone would walk in and not only would I be pumping, but I would pretty much not have any clothes on! I did not wear a dress again, unless if I had leggings on or if it was a nursing dress that I could pull to the side or down.
Invest in nursing bras! You will have to take your whole bra off most likely if you do not have a nursing bra. I like to stay as clothed as possible so I invested in a few nursing bras. I found some at Target that were relatively inexpensive.
Wear patterns or dark tops. Patterned or dark clothing cover up milk leaks better! Even with nursing pads, leaks can still happen. I always try to wear dark colors or busy patterns to hide any unforeseen milk leaks. You may want to even keep an extra shirt in your pump bag.
Try not to stress too much about pumping at work. Stress can cause your milk supply to dip. Looking at pictures or videos of your baby while pumping may help with your letdown and help you to get more milk. Just try to relax! You got this!